Okay, now this one really sounds fake: Scientists are working on a carbon-eating paint, which would be capable of turning emissions into limestone. In other words, it would let buildings eat carbon and then use that fuel to grow, like a living thing.

The secret is synthetic chemicals that behave like microorganisms. Their creator calls them "proto-cells":

So, just as iron rusts when it comes into contact with oxygen and water, protocells can produce simple chemical reactions when they come into contact with carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules, turning the CO2 into calcium carbonate, or limestone, which stops the greenhouse gas from rising up into the ozone layer.

As a by-product of this process, the British scientist says that limestone produced by protocells could naturally "heal" micro-fractures in walls, channeling through tiny breaks, helping to extend the life of any structure it was painted on to.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This is still pie-in-the-sky stuff — protocell technology might not even work at the scales needed to create living buildings. But it's good to know that scientists are applying some seriously creative thought to the problem of carbon emissions. Mitigating climate change is going to take more than everyone washing out their plastic bags, so it's nice that people are thinking.